With the second season of HBO’s Succession now finished, The Ringer staff gathered on the family yacht to deliver their thoughts on the finale, “This Is Not For Tears,” and the season at large.
1. What is your tweet-length review of the Succession finale?
Wired: Who will Judas-kiss daddy once they realize they’re expendable and he’s incapable of human emotion?
Katie Baker: A GIF of Stewy sniffing lavender.
Alyssa Bereznak: This episode was proof that, as long as the writing is there, TV doesn’t need to be anything more than people having conversations in rooms. Or in this case, people having conversations atop obscene yachts.
Richie Bozek: *Mike Breen voice*
Clock winding down. Greg, out to Kendall. Kendall pulls up …
Kate Knibbs: If there is any justice in the world, HBO will put together a website that is just a collection of the reviews of Willa’s play.
Shaker Samman: Kendall graduates from manslaughter to assasination.
2. What was the best moment of the finale?
Baker: If it is to be said: Greg’s congressional testimony. So I shall.
Herman: [Daniel Plainview voice] I. ATE. YOUR. CHICKEN!!!!!!!!!!
Lindbergh: The contrast between Kendall’s devastated stare when Naomi says, “He loves the broken you,” and his smile of genuine pride when Logan names a not-so-broken Roman COO.
Bereznak: Tender moments between the Roy siblings (minus Connor) are extremely rare, so Roman’s uncharacteristically vulnerable appeal to “like, talk to each other about stuff” had me completely enraptured. All the more telling that Shiv and Kendall replied to the first earnest thing their little brother has ever said with cartoon voices and absolutely no intention to take his request seriously. It reminded me of when Kendall was ready to confess his deepest, darkest secret to his mother, and she made up some excuse about being too tired to hear it. Succession is brutal in its depiction of how this family lets one another down over and over again.
Knibbs: I really enjoyed the shot of Greg getting a pedicure.
Samman: Chances are, most of my colleagues will say something about Roman and Kendall’s moment at the table, or the kids laughing together before their father’s arrival, or Ken’s conversation with his dad, or his coup at the end. They are all wrong.
GUYS, KENDALL LISTENS TO LCD SOUNDSYSTEM WHEN HE WORKS OUT. HE LIKES “NORTH AMERICAN SCUM.” HE’S A SAD BOY WHO LIVES IN NEW YORK IN HIS EARLY 30S. LET’S ALL GO TO JAMES MURPHY’S GOUT-INDUCING WINE BAR.
Surrey: A tie between Kendall’s finally proving to his father that he’s a “killer” and …
3. What was your least favorite part?
Surrey: I don’t understand the question.
Bereznak: It was all genuinely great, but I was surprised that the subplot of Willa’s poorly reviewed play, and Connor’s disintegrating finances, got so much screen time.
Baker: The circular firing squad meal had a few good moments—Karl’s sports massages; Richelieu skulking—but I also thought it dragged a little bit? Also, I guess I understand why Tabitha wasn’t on the boat, with Roman coming straight from captivity and all, but I really missed her energy and feel like she would have really enjoyed that giant slide.
Devine: Again with the No Marcia?!?!? She was even in the “previously on” segment this week! Hiam Abbass is a phenomenal performer, and she’s made Marcia a fascinating character even in limited screen time. Please, Mr. Jesse Armstrong, give her the ball and a chance to run the offense for a few minutes.
Bozek: Why did so many people turn on Gerri when they were discussing who should take the fall? I too felt betrayed. Shout-out to Roman.
Lindbergh: Connor and Willa. For the first time, Connor seemed like a frivolous distraction from the show I wanted to watch. Like Logan, we had bigger fish to fry. (Also, the Conheads have to up their meme game.)
Herman: I’m proud of her for ditching Logan, but no Marcia is a tough pill to swallow.
Samman: Try as I might to get the bit, I really hate Connor. Some things are too cringey to be enjoyable.
4. Who was the MVP of Season 2?
Lindbergh: Kendall. The season started and ended with him making public appearances at which he was supposed to grovel and repeat prepared statements, but in the finale, he followed his own script. He’s come a long way since robotically murmuring, “My dad’s plan was better.”
Baker: Naomi! She would have been my answer anyway based on the strength of her Tern Haven leather jacket alone, but her parting words to Kendall in the finale—that Logan loves the broken him—were just as essential to the show. Logan’s “killer” speech may have set Kendall off, but his number one boy was primed by Naomi to even have the conversation. For all the big swinging dealmakers on Succession, it’s Naomi who has no quit: This is now the second time, the first being at Tern Haven, that she might be saving someone else’s company.
Bereznak: My dude Greg began the series as an apartment-less lackey with no real sway and ended it as the subject of a congressional hearing. The American dream!
Herman: The finale wasn’t her best moment, but for carrying the narrative and thematic weight for 90 percent of the season, it’s gotta be Shiv.
Devine: Jeremy Strong’s like Jordan in the early ’90s, LeBron a decade ago, or Mike Trout now: The award should be understood to be his until or unless someone comes up with something drastic to snatch it out of his hands.
I’d round out the ballot with: Sarah Snook, who handled Siobhan’s meteoric rise, fall from grace, and eventual landing in a kind of emotional limbo deftly; Kieran Culkin, who gave Roman tons more depth and shading without sacrificing his acid-tongue charisma; J. Smith-Cameron, who played a big role in Roman’s growth (so to speak) with her shining portrayal as Gerri; and Holly Hunter, who threw 100 mph for six straight weeks before being pulled so that Strong could close it out in the ninth.
Knibbs: I mean, the obvious answer is Kendall, but Roman also availed himself admirably. He got held hostage and stood up for his secret lady love at the Yacht Betrayal Round Table within mere days of one another, and that should be respected.
Samman: It has to be Kendall, right? He spent nearly two full years whimpering through sentences and damn near became a meme as a result, and now he’s the moral arbiter destined to take over one of the biggest companies in the world.
Surrey: Succession has such a talented ensemble, you could make a compelling case for a different MVP each episode. On the whole, however, I’ll go with Kendall, whose tale of two press conferences was a master class of pathos. Give Jeremy Strong an Emmy or there will be hell to pay.
5. Will Tom and Shiv stay married?
Knibbs: It’s the most twisted thing they can do at this point, so yes.
Surrey: Tom has always been obsequious toward the Roys because it grants him proximity to power, and I don’t think that’s going to change next season. Eating Logan’s chicken was less of an existential awakening and more of a flailing reaction at the prospect of being the blood sacrifice.
Bereznak: A spontaneous arrangement of a threesome is a pretty solid harbinger of a doomed marriage. And so is, you know, asking to be in an open relationship on one’s wedding night. So even before Shiv cooly suggested Tom would make a fine public punching bag, it seems pretty clear that he was willing to eat only so much shit. I’m not saying the divorce will happen by the next episode, but it’s definitely coming.
Bozek: Yes, just because the way Shiv protected Tom after their conversation seemed telling.
Lindbergh: It’s possible that Tom actually airing his grievances and Shiv belatedly begging Logan to save him will strengthen their relationship, but the real reason Shiv liked having him around was that he was someone she could control. Now that he’s asserted himself, it may be better that they both say, “Thank you for the chicken,” and go their own way.
Baker: Legally, maybe!
Devine: It set my teeth on edge to watch Tom have to try to, like, negotiate his way out of a threesome because he didn’t actually want to have sex with someone who wasn’t his wife and he really wasn’t OK with his wife continuing to sleep with other people in the arrangement she sprung on him after they’d gotten married … and then be made to feel bad about that! Tom finally found clarity in whichever one of the infinite coves Julius finally settled on. Here’s hoping he doesn’t lose it once the yacht docks.
Samman: God, I hope not. Watching Shiv bully Tom for the past 19 episodes has been exhausting, and gut-wrenching. I fist-pumped and yelled “let’s go!” so loudly when he told Shiv he didn’t think they should stay together that my dog ran into the other room.
Herman: I don’t know, but that line about lonely sadness versus bad marriage sadness oughta stick with her for a long time either way.
6. Are you proud of Kendall?
Baker: *Half-smirks cryptically*
Herman: HE’S MY NUMBER ONE CORPORATE WHISTLEBLOWER!!
Bereznak: Sure? I mean, it’s not like he did anything heroic. If we’re just approaching this situation logically, it makes sense that he would be willing to risk his father revealing that he accidentally killed a guy while wasted (and covered it up) rather than publicly admit he oversaw a department that intentionally, systematically abused, even killed, a bunch of migrant women and sex workers (and systematically covered it up). If anything, I’m surprised Logan didn’t make that calculation!
Devine: As proud as I can be of someone who is still a vehicular manslaughterer, I suppose. Taking action to reclaim your sense of self, to try to stand on your own feet and heal what about you has been broken, is commendable … or, at least, it would be, if Kendall’s animating principle here was “doing the right thing.”
If I could feel confident that Kendall did what he did at his press conference because he’s decided that it’s his duty to rid the world of the man behind the ethos that produced “no real person involved,” then sure, yeah: all aboard the Redemption Express. But Succession is a show about money, power, the pursuit of both, and the toxicity that taints those in pursuit. I wouldn’t bet that Kendall—who, again, killed a guy this time last year and has still not (yet) faced any legal consequences as a result!—has decided to get his Uncle Ewan on and put all the rapaciousness behind him. You saw the smile playing across Logan’s face: His number one boy’s become a killer. I’m not sure there’s any turning back now.
Knibbs: As proud as anyone can be of someone who commits vehicular manslaughter and uses their father’s malevolent and vast influence to avoid facing legal repercussions, yes.
Samman: The rules of the game are kill or be killed, it seems. I’m proud he finally stuck it to his dad and reasserted himself at the front of the pack. The wolves will all be after him now, but here’s hoping he gets a few minutes with Naomi to celebrate before the real fight starts.
Surrey: THE NUMBER ONE BOY HAS BECOME A NUMBER ONE MAN! ALL HAIL TECHNO GATSBY, THE FIRST OF HIS NAME, FUCKER OF BUSINESS, SNORTER OF COKE, BEAST OF HYPE. (Yes.)
7. What do you think will happen to Logan?
Bereznak: I can’t recall an entire moment in the series when Logan’s role as CEO wasn’t under intense scrutiny. That is to say, I’m not sure they can get away with much more of that in Season 3.
Herman: Bad things, I hope. A comfortable life won off the suffering of others, I know.
Samman: For the first time since we met him, Logan showed real pride in one of his children watching Kendall set him aflame. He clearly considered stepping down at some point in the course of the season finale. Kendall’s move not only followed through on Logan’s initial pitch, but did so in a manner that made his family’s grasp on their company stronger than ever. Logan said it himself: money wins. Sometimes cunning does too.
Baker: [Extremely Ben Affleck “retaaaainer voice”] Statute of limitaaaaaaations! It seems like it would be really hard for Logan to avoid jail time for this, but maybe he’ll either get an infuriatingly short sentence or he’ll weasel out on a technicality; I can’t imagine the show would keep him locked up for long. (I actually have a very strong mental image of a scene where all the siblings wearily await their father’s liberation from the slammer, and when he returns he immediately begins berating them as if nothing has changed.)
Devine: I think that as soon as he’s done beaming at Kendall’s baring his fangs, Logan will bare his own once again and set about destroying his second-born son, possibly by revealing the truth of his fateful and fatal late-night drive. Whether he’ll be able to do it, I don’t know; it seems at least possible that one or more of his other children were in on the hit, and that Logan might have left himself without enough friends, lackeys, or firepower to win this latest war. Maybe he’ll roar all the way back to full Big Bad status. Maybe Father Time will at long last catch up with him, and the dinosaur cull will finally come. Logan’s spent decades making this death bed. Now let’s see if he’s ready to lie in it.
Lindbergh: Logan was never going to transfer power peacefully. Someone had to seize it from him, and Kendall did. With disgrace and divorce looming, the question becomes whether Logan will want Waystar to stay in his family’s hands, or whether he’ll try to kill Killer Kendall because he won’t want anyone else to run the behemoth he built. The Roys’ smaller-scale internecine squabbles could be about to blossom into true civil war.
Surrey: Logan’s too powerful to actually go to jail—his lawyers will make sure of that—so he’ll probably remain a malignant presence in his children’s orbit. The only way Succession will get rid of Logan is when he kicks the bucket.
8. What are you anticipating most about Succession’s third season?
Herman: Roman’s turn as the heir apparent who finds new and creative ways to make us feel bad for liking him.
Knibbs: As always, Shiv’s pants.
Bozek: Changes in family dynamic—do Shiv, Roman, and Connor side with Kendall? Do they try to protect their dad? Will they take sides? Also, which character will have a significant wardrobe change in the 48 hours between seasons and what it will be, similar to Shiv’s haircut this season. My bet is Roman suddenly starts wearing glasses.
Samman: Give me Kendall’s workout playlist. I know I’m one of maybe six fans of the show who care, but I need to run to what Ken runs to. Maybe we’ll run into each other at Terminal 5.
Devine: Where the writers will send Kendall from here, and how Strong will get him there. Greg, that Machiavellian fuck, continuing to move up in the world. Whether Tom’s able to hang onto the self-respect he found on that cove, and in that big bite of chicken. More Marcia, goddammit.
Bereznak: Shiv’s sumptuous outfits first, more hard-nosed business talk second.
Surrey: The free-for-all among the Roy kids (sans Connor, of course). They’ve all formed some kind of alliance—Kendall and Cousin Greg, Roman and Gerri, and presumably Shiv and Tom—and have a legitimate claim to the Waystar empire. I expect things will get nasty; their father taught them well, after all.
Lindbergh: The Rock Star and the Mole Woman.
Baker: Watching Greg adapt to that quarter-bil lifestyle after his grandfather unexpectedly kicks the bucket. Guessing he’ll find some wine he likes!
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.